Mindless Self Indulgence
If

I’d heard of this band years ago, when they started gaining recognition during the tail-end of the ill-fated nu-metal movement. Never bothered to check them out, but seeing as If, their fourth album, is being released by The End Records (that bastion of iconoclasts and experimental goodness), and that it also debuted at #27 on the Billboard 200, I figured that there must be something worthwhile here after all.

Lead single “Never Wanted to Dance” certainly starts off on the right note, although it’s not what I expected. It’s a bouncy, addictive crackle of electro-pop mixed with post-punk sneer, like The Faint or The Bravery performing during a Heathers pep rally. Vocals are elastic and willfully theatrical, even cabaret – a faux Brit saunter that frequently jumps to a manic falsetto keen – it sounds like The Talking Heads‘ David Byrne on Adderall. Certain to get on some people’s nerves, but I enjoyed it, as it reminded me of all that cocky, ridiculous preening from early 80s new wave. There’s little metal to be had here, aside from some safe, buzzy chords and the shouted verses, but the overall effect is both catchy and fun.

“Evening Wear” is equally as entertaining, somewhere between Mechanical Animals-era Marilyn Manson and Toni Basil‘s “Mickey,” with some capricious 60s surf-era “ba-ba-ba’s” thrown in for kitschy effect. Everything here is delivered with a heavy affectation – you can almost hear MSI winking at you. “Lights Out” is more frantic and stuttery, showing more of its classic punk roots before it breaks into a sugary pop-punk chorus. Midway through, cartoonish plucked violins suggest a goofy sense of mystery – the whimsical sense of mixology here reminded me of Mr. Bungle‘s California, though it’s never as unhinged.

So far, If has been zany, tongue-in-cheek retro-electro fun – borderline annoying, but still so energetic and audacious that it can’t help but be entertaining. It’s as if you’ve decided to forgo the usual jocks-and-bratz high school kegger and gone to hang with the arty-farty drama crowd instead – and found out that they’re much more uninhibited partiers. However, on the fifth song, “Issues,” a gang of rap-metal hooligans (likely from Mindless Self Indulgence‘s past) crashes the party and the album takes a stunning nosedive. Between the juvenile, sex-obsessed lyrics and the Fred Durst/lawyer-from-Idiocracy vocal stylings, I felt genuinely embarassed to be listening to that song – and the one after it, and the one after that. And so on, all the way to the end of the album. That effervescent, electro charm is pretty much gone by then, and my patience as well.

I guess there are people out there (a lot of them, based on that debut) that wished the rap-metal phenomenon never went away – if you’re part of that crowd, then this is for you. As for the rest of you with any interest in electro-pop or new wave, try the first 4 tracks and skip the rest – it’s as mindless as you’d expect.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
July 21st, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: swampthang

    this nu metal wigger lives down the street from me and blasts this poop in his car every morning, can i get a carflip please!!!


  2. Commented by: Adam

    I couldn’t really ever get into this band. I saw them live for a friend’s birthday, wasn’t too thrilled.

    And I can appreciate humor in music, but this…just isn’t good, and contrary to what a lot of people say, I don’t understand how they got so big.

    I think they are most definitely a trend band, not them as people trendy, but somehow it’s the poster band for the hot topic crowd.

    And their music, just wasn’t ever appealing to me.

    I would have to agree with the album though. Good review.


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